Brock Borhart was covering for another guy.
The Omaha firefighter and paramedic was scheduled to work on an engine truck Monday.
A last-minute switch put him on an ambulance alongside Julianne Moran, a paramedic whose regular partner had taken the day off.
The change ushered Borhart into a life-or-death moment when a patient he was treating in the back of an ambulance pulled out a gun.
A quick-thinking Borhart grabbed for the gun, which fired and struck him in the abdomen. The patient also was injured.
Moran, who was driving, heard gunfire and assumed that both she and Borhart were dead.
“I for sure thought he would be shot,” Moran said. “I thought I would be, too.”
Borhart and Moran expressed relief — and a little disbelief — that they were still alive as they spoke during a Wednesday press conference at the Fire Department's downtown headquarters.
“I'm happy to be here,” said Borhart, who has been with the department for 11 years. “I'm excited that things didn't go any worse for me.”
Police said they searched 24-year-old Justine Dubois before she left in the ambulance and didn't find a gun. How she got the weapon is being investigated.
Police officials plan an “administrative review of the incident,” in addition to the ongoing criminal investigation.
“We are still investigating the circumstances of the suspect being in possession of the gun,” said Lt. Darci Tierney, a police spokeswoman. Detectives had not spoken to Dubois as of Wednesday afternoon, Tierney said.
Dubois, who was shot in the leg, was listed in fair condition late Wednesday at Creighton University Medical Center.
Borhart suffered superficial wounds and was released from a hospital late Monday. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children.
Moran, who pulled over the ambulance and radioed dispatchers for help, was not injured. She went home to her husband, Casey.
The shooting stemmed from Dubois' arrest about an hour earlier. She appeared to experience an epileptic seizure during her arrest, though authorities have questioned whether she was faking it to put off going to jail.
According to police accounts:
» Officers responded to 48th and L Streets about 2:30 p.m. Monday regarding a stolen vehicle. The car had originally been reported stolen at 5033 S. 20th St., and the victim did not know who was driving it. Officers later were told that the theft suspect was inside Dollar General, 4861 L St.
» Officers found a woman inside the store who matched the description they had been given. They arrested her, handcuffed and searched her and placed her in the back of a police cruiser.
» At some point, Dubois started convulsing and appeared to be nonresponsive. Officers called for an ambulance just before 3:15 p.m.
» Borhart and Moran arrived a few minutes later. Dubois' vital signs were normal, but she wanted to go to a hospital. The officers told her she was still under arrest, even if she were hospitalized.
» She was placed in the rescue squad without handcuffs. The officers and the paramedics didn't see Dubois as a threat; she was being cooperative.
» En route to the hospital, Dubois unbuckled herself from the gurney, stood up and pointed a firearm at Borhart. He yelled, “gun!”
» Moran pulled over at 42nd and Center Streets. She radioed dispatchers, declaring a “Help a firefighter — shots fired” call. Police responded.
During the struggle between Borhart and Dubois, two shots were fired. Moran tried to get to the back of the ambulance to help Borhart before police arrived about 3:35 p.m.
Steve LeClair, president of the Omaha fire union, said a wounded Borhart pinned himself onto Dubois to try to stop her from hurting anyone else.
Assistant Fire Chief Dan Stolinski declined to comment Wednesday on the sequence of Monday's events, citing the ongoing police investigation.
He said fire officials have in the past looked into whether paramedics should wear bulletproof vests or body armor. The department, however, has never taken that step.
As for Borhart and Moran, they're ready to get back to work. They said they'd never forget Monday's events, though, and they feel forever bonded.
“I can't even put it into words,” Moran said. “He really did save my life and the lives of others.”
“I liked her before,” Borhart said. “Now I think the world of her.”